BLOGS AND ARTICLES FROM THE POS SOLUTIONS TEAM

Point of Sale Software

Stock that is not performing

POS SOFTWARE

Do you have some slow-moving stock items?

Maybe you can cut back on their space to make more room for your profitable products?

I suggest that we do this in two stages. 

To begin with

Firstly let us find the items that are the slow movers

Go to Register reports > Stock > Slow moving Stock lines

 

Now call it up here

As you can see I am looking at the stationery department over a twelve month period for anything that I have sold less than $100 and am now stocking something.

Now out pops a report in this case of 81 pages of detailed information of all the items that match this condition in this case, we have almost $80,000 worth of worthless stock.

Now check them out, pull out what you do not want to keep and put in your sales area.

Once you’ve got this done

I suggest that you do a report of your top selling stock items and at those items that are selling well. A rule of thumb in retail is double the space of an item increases its sales by 50%. So the idea here is we are going to replace the marginal items with those that sell well.

Go to Register reports

Now select "Top N Stock Sales for a Given Period."

Now the following comes up.

Now put an appropriate period the default here of a day is not enough for this but I just wanted a quick report for illustration.

Out comes a report with the top sellers

Now, these products need to be checked that you have the right display for each of these products.

Note anything, not on this list you also need to look at as they are marginal..

The bottom line is this

You do not want to pay to a landlord for the space to stock items that do not sell.

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Reasons not to have A Retail Loyalty Program

POS SOFTWARE

The thinker

Thinking about it here are some reasons why someone would pick not to have a loyalty program.

Much of these difficulties are particularly true in the set-up phase of the program

Costs

Our point of sale software gives you the tools you need to run such a program, but you will need to provide your customers' benefits to make it work. 

Work and skills

It is work.

You do not feel your organisation has the social media skills now days required to make it work plus the management expertise to make it work. It needs constant thought and fine-tuning to find out what is working and what is not working.

Customers' information

You do not feel that you can get enough peoples information to make it work for example you think you cannot get enough peoples email addresses. You need about 500 to 1000 people to gain critical mass.

Lack of time

Busy enough AS IS and they do take time to set up, and they will take time to manage. Based on our clients' comments, an hour a week. 

Commitment 

Once you have a loyalty program in place, they can be difficult to stop if they do not work out. Customers can get upset if they feel that you are cheating on them. Always remember if starting one that you do need an exit clause. 

The other problem can be if you feel that your organisation objectives may change shortly and you cannot make the commitment.

You have infrequent customers

We have a client in a holiday area, and they tell me that the people are always changing and that they see most of their customers for about a week or two and then they are gone. The locals are only a tiny part of their business. 

Offers cost you

The expected cost of the proposal is higher than the expected return. The overwhelming number of customers will buy anyway from you at your prices, so there is no point in offering any benefit as such as all it is doing is giving away value to my existing clients who is willing to pay full price.
 

So What Alternatives are there

Here are some ideas.

Nothing

Often nothing is the correct response. Why interfere with something that is working,

"If it is not broken do not fix it".

Discount vouchers

This is where you offer every customer a discount when they buy products in your shop at the next sale. Here is how to set it up in our system, which would give you an incredibly powerful discount voucher system.

Be warned that these discount sales programs are much more expensive then loyalty programs, but they do produce results. See here for numbers.

Guerrilla Marketing

If you are near a major operator that brings in traffic consider how to be able to piggyback on their operation. Let them do the work in getting customers coming to what you are doing here is trying to divert some of their traffic to you eg near a supermarket, a coffee shop might do well. 
 

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Skip Receipts

POS SOFTWARE

Receipt_message.png

 

Here is an idea, to speed up the queues - stop printing receipts. You can with our point of sale software send by email or print a receipt if the customer requests one.

Try if possible to get regulars to use the email receipt function so your POS system sends it automatically rather slow you down.  

 

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UPS tips

POS SOFTWARE

power outage

Be warned:

The recent strong winds in South Australia showed that the resulting power outages could severely impact those without the necessary precautions even outside the affected area.  It is not just storms, I have had clients in a building with a faulty lift, electricity stopped.   

No power and a modern retail shop stop. 

Don’t worry. There’s a solution.

A UPS is what every retail business should invest. It will protect not just power outages; a decent UPS also stops brown-outs and most surges too (see explanation below for those that want the technical details) 

The problem

In many ways, surges are the worst because they can physically destroy a computer system. I have seen a surge that was so big it caused a monitor to explode, and the damage from the flying glass was so significant that broke the front window, hurt severely one of the staff and thus closed the shop for a few days. 

One point, I must stress, if you have a UPS, you need to check that it works regularly, that means every month, stop the power and see how it behaves. UPS often appear to work even when broken. 

If you are interested in getting a UPS, here are some tips

Explanation of power terms

The main problems with power and computers, in my experience, are these. They can all be linked for example   

Spikes generally happen when something like a lift engine breaks. What you get is a sudden increase in power. For a very short time, what you see is a dramatic increase in power. This can fry computer components. Then you get a  Blackout when you get no power as everything gone down. But while the Blackout is happening the computer experiences a major drop in voltage. This is called a Brownout. What this does is create a short burst of voltage in the computer to compensate. This burst can ruin the computer instantly.

  More information


There are many others problems which you can read up here.

 

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Using excel for stock pricing and costings

POS SOFTWARE

Excel

I was stunned when I was told that a competitor released an article claiming that you should never use excel for stock to manipulate details but the Stock Manager tool. My first thought was this is *NUTS* and my second is that it is another attack against us when I was asked.  No, I was told, by one of their clients, it is in their newsletter too and you are not listed, see I will send it to you.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read it

We were not listed almost possibly as we have both the Stock Manager tool and the ability to export/import stock data through excel. So they probably know our users can do both. But my confusion grew as I read the newsletter article as I believe that one of the companies listed has a Stock Manager tool too as well as the ability to export/import stock data through excel. So I am not sure this is all about!

Having said this let me explain

A  Stock Manager tool allows you in your point of sale software to manipulate your stock details, which is very handy if you have thousands of stock items. An example might be if a supplier costs that are supplied by a particular distributor to you needs to be increased by a percentage%. While updating the costs you can also tell the POS system to automatically update the retail price by increasing the retail price by a certain formula say by keeping the same margin, by a figure or making them 30% or whatever.... There are lots of options there. It also very good for changing in bulk stock descriptions so for 80% of the cases its great and there is no point in using excel.

But there is always the 20% when it is nice to have excel and sometimes in 10% of the cases, it is needed. Here are some examples.

Some have no choice

Many suppliers today particularly small ones will issue, their catalogue in an excel format.  So many people that do not have a choice. They must have an excel export/import facility.

* You have still more flexibility with a spreadsheet, for example, you can specify every item description that contains the word pack or PK which is between $10 and $15 in retail price and has a cost over $5 is to go up in retail price by 30 cents and 2%. 

* Let’s look at another example:

Then there are people who handle gifts. What they do is download an excel spreadsheet for a location, then go over the items correcting and modifying descriptions and pricing details. They now want a quick and easy way of putting the figures back into their system. As there is no pattern or formula a  Stock Manager tool although it can be used is not the quickest way.

*  Here’s one company’s story:

Then there are people that have items that need some complex calculations for which excel is extremely useful for doing the calculations. Looking at a few excel spreadsheets that a cake shop that uses our software uses for a cheesecake there are 15 different ingredients listed, plus seven extras listed prep, gas, electricity, water, labour, slices and wastage.  Most of these extras calculations are quite complex and require their own excel sheet to properly calculate the costs for a cake. Similarly, the spreadsheet for the brownies has 10 items and the doughnuts have 8 items. As these costs vary the owner of the shop tends to update these figures frequently and sometimes daily as a big baking on Friday has different figures then a Monday bake. Once he does this they require the facility that we have to update their prices through excel.

I am sure many of you will come up with examples where this sort of flexibility might be useful.

In a nutshell

If you do not need it, then with us you do not have to use it but if you require to use excel, well with us you can. You have the choice.

 

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Identify your slow moving stock lines

POS SOFTWARE

Consider this

To improve bottom-line costs, what we need to do is identifying and cull the slow-moving lines. Hopefully, then you can clear the space out for something that sells or maybe fix the problem.

Let’s dive in

I suggest that you do it by departments, as it helps with the perspective and makes the workload manageable. 

This a step by step plan to help you find these items. 

Go to your POS Software> Register reports > Stock > Slow moving Stock lines

Now click there

I then selected twelve months and used as criteria as any line that sold less than $100 and that I am now stocking something.

So check these out:

You get a report that gives you a clear view of your current performance metric with slow-moving lines and extra information on these lines. 

So let’s get to work

 

 

 

 

 

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Much is happening on our website

POS SOFTWARE

Welcome

Yesterday a lot of new information was put up, please feel free to browse our site as I am sure you will find much useful. 

Our goal with the redesign of our website was to make the information that we give to you easy to find; no functionality in your software is lost. However, with the new platform, we will be able to offer you more.  If you have any questions or comments about the site in general, or anything, in particular, please let me know.

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Switching off point of sale computers at night

POS SOFTWARE

Shut down

Firstly switching off your system at night will save you money.  No point in having your equipment run if there is no reason for it.

It also saves your computer and hardware life expectancy as they are not switched on that long.  

The other issue is that it is safer as hackers tend to like to work at night when no-one is there to see them at work.

Occasionally you are going to need some tasks to run overnight for example once a month, I do a full virus scan overnight.

Finally, you need to make sure that you switch off the power or have a surge protector on your computer as a significant power surge can travel through the wires and wreck computers whether they are switch on or off. 

Here is a calculation of what you might save with electricity now it is up to you to decide 

The electricity cost of a computer, these figures are approximate as each computer system is different but when I measured one of my home computers it used 80 watts and the two LCD monitor used about 40 watts. If they were on all the time in one year they would have used every day, in a year they will use 365.25*24* (80+40)/1000 = 1051kw.  

In Victoria, we are currently paying about 28 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), for standard 'peak rate' electricity so assuming an energy cost per kWh = 28 cents. Your rates may be higher, for example, typically in In South Australia, the electricity rate is 42 cents.

My annual energy cost for this computer is 1051 x .28 = $294.54 for this computer, as I actually have a few more computers and a few laptops so it would be a lot more.  

Now assuming you turned it off you might save half. If you want to do an actual test here is a sheet to fill out

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How to sell more

POS SOFTWARE

Here is a tip for your POS software.

It is simple and works well.

Take your best sellers and move them to prime selling positions in the shop. Another equally good tip is in your storeroom put the top sellers in easy reach, as you go there a lot.


I do suggest that you check out scientifically your top sellers as it is surprising how many people only know a few of their top sellers.

Here’s how ridiculously easy it is to find them

The best report that contains the sales of the stock items in order of sales together with the stock on hand figure to give you an idea of how much room you need. Go to the top N stock report which you can find in register reports here.

We then put in a period, as a rule, I suggest running this report twice once with two years and the second time with three months to give you a long/short-term perspective. So run it firstly for two years, then for three months.

Then when you have your list of goods nicely ordered by quantity, profit and sales.

Get it done

Now actually go and investigate where these items are. A useful tip is to ask someone who does not know your shop, to come in and try and find a specific product and see how they go.

 

 

 

 

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More notes on USB sticks

POS SOFTWARE

A while ago here, I wrote a few comments on USB sticks which is worth reading first. Here are a few more tips, I will add.

 

USB sticks are the most popular method for doing backups today. 

As technology has moved on, today I do not recommend you getting any USB stick that does not have USB 3.0 if your computer can handle it. USB 2.0 is just too slow. If you are still doing a backup on USB 2.0, I would consider upgrading your computer as its too slow.

Try to get one that flashes a light in use, it is useful to know that it is connected.

If what you have is in any way confidential, then I suggest that you do learn how to use the encryption. It is available and its free so why not use it? At the very least if you lose the USB stick, your information will be reasonably secure.

Most people like to keep the USB stick on their keyring, consider tying a string to hold the USB stick in place for added security as well. One of our clients, had the USB stick on a chain, the chain broke, and the USB stick was lost.

Sometimes when you reformat the USB stick you lose storage memory, I have seen USB stick lose about half their storage when reformated. So I would suggest not reformating them if possible.

They do not last forever. They do occasionally need to be replaced.

Hope this helps

 

 

 

 

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We’re 35 years, today our birthday

POS SOFTWARE

Happy birthday POS Solutions

Today is POS Solutions 35th Birthday, it was 35 years ago, it was officially established.

It was actually over 35 years, what happened that while doing work with a client ATAC, suddenly they refused to pay for the work because they were worried that the ATO would see us as employees and not as an independent company. Make it official they demanded so the next morning over my kitchen table, I brought a shelf company from my accountant and POS Solutions was officially born.

I had no business plan, with all the arrogance of a guy in his twenties, I knew that other people were writing specialised business software and that as I was the best programmer I knew and a harder worker if they could do it, so could I.

I knew it was the start of an amazing trip and I knew that our software would be better. Over the years, our software grew and developed. Today it is estimated that POS Solutions has distributed about ten thousand copies of its software. 

One question I ask myself is :

When I look back at the last 35 years, I ask myself how were we able to do so well? In business, just to survive 35 years in business is a great achievement. 

Really we had nothing, we certainly had much fewer resources than many of the other companies out there we were battling.  Whenever we went into any venture, there was always someone already in the industry, much bigger and firmly established. In the early days, my bedroom was the office. 

The answer, I think is because *We cared much more!*

How?

As we wanted to have the best software for SMB retail, we kept spending our money on programming and system development.  Our R&D budget typically is now over $1.5 million dollars a year. On any project, we generally have twice as many programmers as our competitors. 

A company that succeed do two things very well:

They have good products which we do as R&D is our biggest expense. We continue doing this as we want the best software on the market. It is because of this massive commitment to R&D that I am even more excited about the next ten years. Every day it is interesting because it is always something new. Our software is just going to do more and get better.

These successful companies also have good service, our service in our market space is considered the best. I can tell you this after 35 years, that great customer service is of the utmost importance when it comes to growing your business and I personally make sure that it is the best.

The good news is

This new technology will enable us to help more of our clients to get more productive and efficient. We feel a deep responsibility to help them more and serve them the best we can.

A big thank you

To all of you, without you, it would never have happened our 35th birthday.

Thank you

We have had your POS in our Newsagency since the early 1990's, one of the best investments we have made, so much information about our business can be obtained from the reports we access to.

Keep up the good work, Happy Birthday

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What departments sold today and their profit

POS SOFTWARE

Here is a typical problem, you want to know from your POS Software how your department sold on a day and what profit you made broken down by these departments. Often it is for days that are special like events or public holidays.

Easy with our POS system.

Let’s get started

Go to Sales

Now select Dissection sales for a given period (see the red arrow)

 

Dissection report in sales

 

Now select the days you require

Dissection select dates

In this case, I will select yesterday

Now pops out a report full of relevant details for that day including numbers, sales and profit

Dissection report by day
 

And that was just the beginning

As the report has much more details for you to examine.

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Today is "Fight Procrastination Day"

POS SOFTWARE

Do it now

Well, nowadays we have holidays for just about everything,  so why not this too.

Today is Fight Procrastination Day!

The odds are that much of the stress that you are under is more due to the procrastination then the task yet to be done. If so then today's holiday is the created just for you, get up and do it *NOW*. 

A useful tip 

To fight procrastination get a TODO planner. I find if I have a list with items clearly marked to be done, that I will go through the list and do them.

There are many online available. The two that I would recommend are:

1) I use Todoist all the time. Using it I note what needs to be done and when. What I particularly like is that I can plan on my computer and smartphone. It has a lot of options and good support 

2) Wunderlist which I briefly used which I do not think its quite as good as Todoist but it was very good too. 

But here’s the kicker:

Procrastination is not productive.

 

 

 

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Training a tip

POS SOFTWARE

Image removed.Image removed.

Training on your point of sale software can be time-consuming, it is an investment that should be done. This is particularly true when you are looking at one as advanced as ours. 

Without training, much of your POS System is lost as it is only as useful as the people who use it.

What I suggest you do, is pick a reliable staff member preferably who does have computer knowledge and your processes which can dedicate the time required to learn and understand your POS software.

It will be their job to learn as much as they can about the P.O.S. and then one of the duties of that person will be to pass on the information as required to other people in the shop.

Training will be an ongoing process as there is a lot to learn plus as conditions change, your requirements change plus the continual improvements we are putting into our software means that ongoing training is needed to keeping the business running efficiently.

To help we regularly run user meetings throughout Australia, have online training sessions - webinars and have a unique and free one on one training sessions service in our offices. We also for a fee can come to your shop and do onsite training.  

PS If your shop requires specialised skills with software that is not ours like excel, photoshop, word, etc there are many useful training centres available eg Centre for Adult Education

 

 

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Review your Gross Margin

POS SOFTWARE

This problem is what a point of sale software is for!

It is all too easy to take a product for whatever reason and market it, then keep handling it. The price, discounts and costs overtime go up and down and soon your shop is handling an item that has a very marginal margin and you do not know it as its hiding in thousands of products. 

The other problem is that items with low-margins are almost always a waste of time and space, yet I have seen staff keep pushing these low-margin items.

Finding these items

This is a report that I suggest you run "Quantity On Hand and Price Check".

It will show you your margins and the quantities on hand so you can instantly start to plan. So it is a great place to start.

So here it is:

I suggest running this report regularly, as stock management requires continuous monitoring and management control.

 

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Father's day traffic

POS SOFTWARE

Today a few people asked me about Father's Day traffic from their point of sale software. 

Let’s look at it in detail:

Overall interest by the public in growing fast and Father's Day now, measured by Google Searches it is now comparable to Mothers Day  

Image removed.Image removed.

Ten years ago, in 2008 Mothers Day interest was listed in Google Trend at 51% and Father's Day was 2%, today in 2018 Mothers Day interest was 100% and Father's Day is 77%. The days when Dad only got some barley sugar is long gone. Now typically, he gets some outing, a party and some present.

Talking to a few of my clients they range in how much its worth, but most did report something.

So check this out:

Now if you want to know how busy you were going to Traffic analysis which you will find in register reports > Sales.

Now I am going to keep this simple although there are a few reports for you to look at 
 

The one I would like you to select is "Traffic Analysis by Trading Hour."

Now for Father's Day put in dates for this week.

Out will pop a report like this one showing how busy the shop was by sales per hour.

It is colour coded for ease of use.

This is available to all our clients.

Now some of you have a traffic counter integrated into our system. This is quite unique to us. What this does is count the number of people that came into the shop.

Now if you selected traffic to see red arrow, I would get a similar report to the above but based on people in the shop. This will tell you how many people came into your shop.

 

 

Putting it together

If you do not have a counter, you will need to use feel, which although not as good should give you an idea.

Now four scenarios need investigating traffic.

High traffic plus High sales  This is to be expected

Low traffic plus Low sales  This is to be expected, something has to change in what you are doing, you need more people coming for Father's Day.

High traffic plus Low sales  This is an indication that you do not have the right products for your customers. Did you have the right mix for Father's Day?

Low traffic plus High sales  Generally this means that people know what they want. If the traffic was low on Father's Day, people looking Father's Day did not come, what you got was regulars. This is often seen in bad weather which is what we had in Melbourne on that day.

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If you want to learn more about this, then please click here.

 

 

what is the report to run to pick up father's day sales for categroised products? eg cards

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Ransonware again

POS SOFTWARE

Ransomware is back again.

Here’s the scary part

In a minute, this is what you can get it if you are not careful. 

Ransomware_nasty.jpg

 

In theory.

What happens is once you accidentally run Ransomware software, it locks you at of your information and will not let you access your information unless you pay the Ransomware people. I say in theory as often in our experience, all of your information has been deleted and is unrecoverable by the ransomware. It is a scam that they are selling that your files can be recovered so that you will pay the ransom. There is no longer honour amongst thieves. 

So what’s the answer?

There is only one solution and that is to back up all your information to a secure, offsite location. If you have a backup, we can often within hours send you at a computer with our point of sale software on it and if your backup is available to have you up and running. This we have done many times. 

What else can I do?

Anything your computer has access too, the ransomware also has. These backups should be tested regularly to ensure that they are useful.

You may consider putting on your computer either one of these two free ransomware detectors:

1. Bit Defender anti-Ransomware
2. Malwarebytes anti-ransomware

They may help.

An updated antivirus program may help too.

If you get an attack

If you do not have a backup or you want to try and fix it first, then the site we recommend is here.

If so, I would recommend using their Crypto Sheriff to define the type of ransomware affecting your device. This program may tell you how you stand. 

After you are finished, I would suggest reporting it, it will probably do nothing, but it may help.

We as a matter of course, we never recommend paying both because most of the time it does not help and also because by paying people are encouraging these thieves to keep doing it and we do report all the attacks that we are involved in. Again it may help.

The moral of this story?

Please have backups.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest fairfax commission rates

POS SOFTWARE

Fairfax commission rates are going down again. I confess I was stunned when I saw the latest figures as I had been led to believe that this time the margins would be going up slightly. Well it did not, current rates in Victoria are for a full-service newsagent 19.2% Mon-Friday, for a subagent it is 9.6%. For weekends they both get a touch more. 

When I was a kid, it was 25% we got for Fairfax products, and that was true since anyone could remember but times have changed.

This is a margin analysis I did in April 2015. 

newspaper_margins_April15.jpg

 

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Deciding on your Point of sale software before buying hardware

POS SOFTWARE

Point of sale equipment

 

What you will find that many POS software out there cannot handle some hardware. So by having the equipment already, you are making problems.

It may not be the right hardware for the point of sale software, for example, anyone buying our POS system would need a computer that can run Microsoft SQL fast. Get a good computer that runs Microsoft SQL slow then if you run our software, you have wasted your money because our software will run slow.  

Also, many point of sale software companies like ours have some very good deals and buying a bit here and a bit there is probably going to cost more than buying in one a big order as you are going to lose your system discount.

Almost certainly you are going to find that you are going to have to be the coordinator between different companies to get things done and you are also opening yourself to the classical problem if something goes wrong of trying to determine whose fault it is. An observation from Murphy's law states "if more then one person is at fault, no-one will admit fault."  

If you really do want to buy the components separately, then I suggest that you make a decision on your software and then ask the relevant parties to discuss it between themselves as to how they can best handle it. 

 

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Clean up before selling them

POS SOFTWARE

A guy goes to a computer swap meeting in Tasmania and buys a laptop. He takes it home and finds in the laptop a directory full of child pornography. He immediately called the police, and the seller got charged. I do not feel sorry for the seller, but I do think that this example shows how much trouble a person can get into when they sell their old computers. A computer today is a notebook, a diary, a repository of your mail, your financial statements etc. It is full of personal stuff.

Now for private use, it is easy once you backup everything that you need and make sure you have everything you need, then do a full reset on your computer. What this does is erases everything on your PC and takes it back. If you have a windows 10 computer to an initial setting. It can be a bit tricker for other versions of Windows, but they all have something.

Once you have done this, you can safely sell your computer.

For businesses, it is much harder as often you are selling a computer with the business, and it has information, but the point of sale software plus much of the business software must remain operating AS IS.

So the first point is to go carefully over the computer and see what is on it. Backup everything that you think you require. Then delete as much as you can.

Now the problem is that much of the information of these files are still on your disk and a computer expert might be able to resurrect much of it.

To fix this problem download a software package CCleaner 

Now I recommend here, that you uninstall your browser altogether, to clear out your browsing history and bookmarks. The new owner can put whatever he likes.

Go into the recycle bin and empty it.

Now run CCleaner.

Select tools > Diskwiper > Free Space Only

 

CCleaner

Security, I recommend Advanced overwrite 3 passes.

Pick the drives and let the computer go.

If you want something better then CCleaner or you want to make sure that it is gone, I suggest that you look at BleachBit. If the FBI could not crack Hillary Clintons computer once it had been cleaned with BleachBit, I reckon you are pretty safe. Use BleachBit to delete all the free space too including junk files.

Now your computer should be secure to sell.

 

 

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